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Foreign Idioms

Idioms and sayings have been part of our daily English conversations that we don’t even notice they’re there anymore. We know that feeling over the moon actually doesn’t involve extraterrestrial travel, as much as being the apple of someone’s eye doesn’t involve extreme hunger. But what about idioms from foreign languages? Do they sound just like music to the ears? Here are several perfectly common but seemingly odd foreign idioms.

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  1. To slide in on a shrimp sandwich (Swedish)

This idiom refers to someone who didn’t have to work in order to get where they are. In English, its closest counterpart is “to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth,” which means having been born rich.

  1. One afternoon in your next reincarnation (Thai)

This idiom has many variations: in Dutch, “when cows are dancing on ice”; in Filipino, “when the raven turns white”; and in English, “when pigs fly.” They all mean one thing: it’s never going to happen.

  1. The cat will come to the tiny door (Croatian)

This idiom means what goes around, comes around. How it connects? Nobody knows.

  1. Don’t praise the day before evening (German)

This idiom means to not rely on something before it’s there. In English, a similar idiom is “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

  1. I’ll squeeze my thumbs for you (German)

This is a European version of the English idiom, “Cross your fingers.” Both idioms mean that you are wishing the person luck.

  1. To have a fly on one’s head (Icelandic)

This idiom means to have an idea. A similar English counterpart is “to have a lightbulb moment.”

  1. Pepper in another one’s eyes is refreshing (Portuguese)

This idiom is the Portuguese version of schadenfreude or the feeling of finding happiness in another person’s misery.

  1. To give someone pumpkins (Spanish)

This idiom has its roots in Ancient Greek and means to reject somebody. The idea behind this idiom is the fact that pumpkins are anti-aphrodisiacs.

  1. To pace around hot porridge like a cat (Norwegian)

This idiom means avoiding the point or reiterating the idea way too often. A close English equivalent is “to beat around the bush.”

  1. Black seed (Filipino)

To say that someone has a black seed means that a person is ruthlessly mean/evil. A similar English term is “rotten to the core.”

 

Sources

Ted.com

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